This post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings.com, the leading online resource dedicated to serving same-sex couples since 1999. Kathryn is also co-author of the groundbreaking book, The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography. Follow her on Twitter @madebykathryn.
What does your virtual coffee table say about you?
In social interactions, we all tend to size each other up quickly. Sometimes our snap judgments have merit and sometimes they don’t. But, either way we, as human beings, have a tendency to size each other up – to judge a book by its cover, if you will – and proceed accordingly.
This is especially true for the LGBTQ community. Not long ago, we didn’t feel safe being ‘out’ (and some of us still don’t) and we spent a great deal of time looking for signals that the space or relationship was safe enough for us to be our true selves.
Today, old habits die hard and phone hang ups still happen so gay grooms, lesbian brides and queer couples continue to spend extra time looking for the ‘little things’ to let us know that we can be honest with you if we do pick up the phone and call to inquire about your services. This is especially true for couples in non-marriage equality states in the midwest and deep south, but it also happens everywhere.
Case in point: I was working with a client from California (a marriage equality state) a few weeks ago, and he mentioned that he and his fiancé had booked a limo for their wedding day. But, he said, in doing so, he had booked it using his name and a fake bride’s name in order to avoid a difficult conversation. Clearly, there were no clear signals of LGBT-friendliness on this vendor’s website so the groom took a low-risk approach to engage the vendor.
That limo company is lucky that they got the business of this gay couple, but one can imagine the trouble that can ensue as a result of mixed signals and false pretense in this situation. In a worst case scenario, it doesn’t bode well for the couple or the limo company and one’s wedding day is not the day to sort this out!
As a wedding pro, you work hard to make sure that you are presenting your business to prospective clients as professionally as possible — from your brochures to your business cards to your website. You want to — you have to! — make a good first impression in an incredibly competitive marketplace.
Some of you might still have room to grow in the realm of first impressions and some of you might be happy with how your point of first contact (phone call, website, brochure, etc) resonates with prospective clients. But, for either category, the questions I ask are:
What kind of a first impression are you making with same-sex couples? And, is that the first impression you want to be making?
Think of your website, brochure or office as a virtual coffee table. If a gay or lesbian couple encountered your virtual coffee table, what would that environment tell them about your services, your openness to working with LGBTQ couples, or your previous work with same-sex couples?
Do you have more to tell them about your experience and openness than your ‘coffee table’ currently does? If so, the time to make those updates is now. These days, being ‘gay-friendly’ often isn’t enough; one must also demonstrate gay wedding competence to book same-sex couples who have more choice in vendors than ever.
Good luck! Drop me a note and let me know more about the work you’ve done with your virtual ‘coffee table.’
Suggestions to help you update your virtual coffee table
- Do you display images of same-sex couples or references to same-sex couples in examples of products or services you might offer?
- Do you have books on your bookshelf, links on your site, or social media connections to same-sex wedding experts or resources?
- Do you have specific packages developed to support the needs of same-sex couples (for example: rental options for two tuxes, complementary wedding gown pairings, legal elopement planning packages, etc)?
- Does your business description rely only on use the words ‘bride’ or ‘bride & groom’ or do you reference ‘engaged couples’ and ‘brides and grooms’?
- If a female client calls, do you automatically reference a groom as the other half of the couple? Or vice versa?
- Do you know if gay marriage is legal in your home state and, if not, what the implications are for couples who might go elsewhere. Or, if so, what the implications are for couples who live in state or might be traveling to your area to marry legally? Learn more via GayWeddings.com’s marriage map.
- If you have a listing on GayWeddings.com through the WeddingWire network, does your profile image for GayWeddings.com show a heterosexual couple, a generic wedding photo or a same-sex couple?
- Are you using the WedWeCan campaign wallpaper or other tools to show your support for marriage equality?